Diving into the writing fray off your PLATFORM

Hi, peeps! Hope everything is groovy with you and yours.

First, we’re doing a big-ass giveaway of the anthology I co-edited with R.G. Emanuelle, All You Can Eat: A Buffet of Lesbian Romance and Erotica at Women and Words (AYCE scored an honorable mention in the Rainbow Awards! YAY!), so run on down and get in on that. We’ve got 2 print copies and 5 ebooks to give away. HERE IS THE LINK TO DO JUST THAT. You have until Tuesday, 9 PM EST U.S. time to play.

And now, I thought I’d just chit-chat a bit about writing. Because that is ostensibly what I do up in here. Today, let’s talk marketing. In sort of a broad sense.

Yes, it’s true that writers have to do pretty much all of their own marketing and promo these days. It’s not just for indie writers. Some traditional houses do very little (if anything) by way of promo (sad but true) while others do a bit more and/or have some money to spend on marketing events and the like.

But if you’re a writer these days, chances are you’re doing the brunt of your promo and marketing all by your little self and you’re paying for it all by your little self, too.

So when you start your writing journey, you need to think about PLATFORM. That is, a network. A way to reach a lot of people in a short amount of time. There are good ways and bad ways to do this, and a platform is related to your “brand.” I.E., how you decide to present yourself to the world as you embark on your writing and marketing journey. And, yes, it will take a while to build said platform and brand.

I defer here to author Nat Russo, who blogs over at A Writer’s Journey.

In May of this year, he had a great post up about things he learned with regard to indie publishing (and marketing). I’m going to share the stuff he included in that post about platform and advertising, because I have a similar approach to his.

Nat says, in big, bold letters: “Advertising is Not Your Friend.” He provides some of his own experience, about how he went overboard Tweeting about his release, for example. Results? His sales were terrible. Or, as he describes it:

Sales were dismal. I mean horrible. When they struck bottom, they started digging. Other authors’ sales would follow my sales around…but only out of morbid curiosity. My sales set low personal standards, and then consistently failed to achieve them.

Why is this, do you think? Well, I’ll just say it. People don’t want to be constantly bombarded with commercials. That’s why we have Tivo, for chrissakes. And Netflix and Hulu. So we tune that shit out. How many people do you know who actually like to watch commercials? Maybe a few that are clever, now and again (during the Superbowl, e.g.), but seriously. When you’re on Twitter and all you’re seeing from an author is constant Tweets about “buy my book!” “New release! Buy!” “Good review of my book! Here’s the buy link!”, don’t you tune that out after a few of those Tweets? And then suddenly you’re not paying attention to that author anymore because all they’re doing is begging you to buy his or her book. my-book-is-now-available-in-ebook-format-ill-give-you-the-buy-link-50383

So what did Nat do?

I had to slap myself. This couldn’t continue. So I took stock of what led me to writing and blogging to begin with: helping people improve their craft. Not selling books! It was never about selling books for me! As soon as I realized this, I went back to what I had been doing for two years: I went back to being a content provider, first and foremost. I slashed the number of book ads I was tweeting and went back to blogging and mentoring.

And what were the results?

Sales rocketed. And by rocketed, I mean they leaped from 3/day to over 70/day, where they’ve remained ever since. Necromancer Awakening climbed onto three different Amazon bestseller lists and raced up to the top 10 on each.

All with minimal advertising.

I tend to be like Nat. I provide a lot of content and a variety of links in my Twitter and Facebook feeds (including snarky, goofy comments). I do, on occasion, Tweet and FB about a book I’ve got coming out, especially if there’s a giveaway and a chance to win it somewhere. But generally, I’m more the blogging and mentoring type, like Nat. That’s what I love to do, and it’s intrinsically part of my personal writing journey.

It’s taken me years to build up an audience, and it’s not gajillions of people. The genres I write are part of lesbian fiction, which is a smaller audience than most, though I think it’s growing and I think the advent of indie publishing has really helped expand that audience. But I do have regular followers of my blog and FB and Twitter feeds, and I do co-admin the blogsite Women and Words, which also provides content and a platform for many, many authors and books.

I like that. I like giving back, so Nat’s approach works for me.

Another example.

Some of you may be regular followers of thriller writer Amanda Kyle Williams. She’s known for her quirky, hilarious postings on Facebook that describe some of her day-to-day doings, including her work with animals, her culinary experiments, and amusing anecdotes about silly things she does. She also posts about upcoming events that she’s participating in, and posts information about her forthcoming work, but a lot of her content on her social media is not related to that at all.

And people love it. People love seeing glimpses of the person behind the book, they like being entertained, they like the humanization of authors, and they like not being bombarded with book commercials. Amanda has a great platform and a great brand. She’s a Southern-based author whose work takes place in the South, and she shares her quirkiness with the world.

MY platform and brand lean, like Nat’s, toward mentoring and helpful (sometimes nutty) blogging. I’m not comfortable sending out Tweet after Tweet pleading with people to buy my book or plastering social media with exhortations to click the “buy” link. But I AM comfortable in my other roles as mentor, editor, and blogger, and as someone who shares what she learns on her own writing journey with others.

So if you’re going to be doing this writing THANG, start thinking about that platform and, by extension, your brand. And make sure you stop by Nat Russo’s site. He’s got lots of great content about writing and marketing and publishing and all kinds of stuff.

Thanks, Nat!

And happy weekend, everybody!

8 thoughts on “Diving into the writing fray off your PLATFORM

  1. As a reader your comments, and Nat’s are spot on. Do I tune out authors who constantly post links for their books. Yes. Do I enjoy following authors who have something more to add than just self promo like yourself and AKW? Absolutely.
    Am I reading From the Hat Down this week? As a matter of fact I am. 🙂
    I much prefer reading about the process and what drives you crazy writers to devote so much of your free time to the writing pursuit over just “buy my book” posts.

    • Thanks for stopping by! I enjoy the act of writing, but I also enjoy all the other stuff that goes with it, and I love the idea of the writing craft and how to make a story better, how to make it work. I spent a lot of years in publishing as an editor, so I come at writing from that side, too. I like to see how things work, and I like the idea of trying new things and sharing them with others. I’m way into “community” and all the other writing-related stuff I do feeds into my love of building community. 😀

      OH, and thanks for reading!

  2. definitely agree with you Andi – and Nat – about bombarding people… I rarely buy the books writers tweets about constantly. I have downloaded samples and then not followed up but I have seldom bought the whole book as I think it smacks of desperation. Many books pick up because they are reviewed or tweeted by other readers (Good Reads shows this) – I’m learning for my own journey in case my manuscript gets published… Loved “From the Hat Down” by the way….

  3. Definitely spot on. I have an alternate Facebook page just for lesfic stuff, and I hardly use it anymore because of the constant barrage of self-promotion. And now, I am much less inclined to buy books from those authors. I like “the author behind the book” idea, and I’m much more inclined to read works of an author I have some type of connection with, however small. Great blog; I wish more authors would pay heed!

Comments are closed.